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University LINKs Scheme

University of Chester (UK)

Dr Krista McLennan
Dept of Biological Sciences
Email: k.mclennan@chester.ac.uk



The LINK scheme has been used to support Chester University’s programme of Animal Behaviour and Welfare Group Research Seminars. Talks have included:

High drive dogs on campus: An afternoon with Nando Brown and Jo-Roise Haffenden (and their dogs!) - January 2018

The Department of Biological Sciences, University of Chester, were delighted to welcome well-known dog trainers Nando and Jo-Rosie, and their dogs, Ella and Blake, to teach staff and students about training high-drive dogs ethically. Nando and Jo-Rosie have recently appeared on both Channel 4 and ITV helping the general public to train their pets.

The dog training industry is still unregulated, meaning that anyone, regardless of qualifications or experience, can set-up a dog training business. This means that there is little consistency in the methods used to train dogs, and dog welfare can suffer as a result. With an estimated 8.5 million dogs in the UK alone, more information is required on how best to train dogs ethically, and effectively.

Jo-Rosie and Nando train owners and professionals using scientifically-informed methods. Their talk and demo focused on bite work in dogs i.e. how to train dogs to attack on command. This training has traditionally involved encouraging defensive reactions in dogs, in order to motivate them to bite. Nando and Jo-Rosie explained that this need not be the case - dogs can be trained to perform defensive behaviours without feeling defensive themselves! 

The lecture theatre was packed, and staff and students alike learned a lot about the ethics of dog training!

Quality inspirational research on goat welfare and cognition – Dr Alan McElligott comes to Chester!  - February 2018

On 7th February, the Department of Biological Sciences was delighted to host an exciting research talk delivered by Dr Alan McElligott from the University of Roehampton, who presented a range of results from his research on cognition and welfare in goats.

There are over a billion domestic goats worldwide; despite this vast population, their welfare requirements are not as frequently targeted by researchers as are those of other production animals such as sheep and cattle. Alan McElligott’s work on cognition in this species has made a significant impact on our understanding of goats’ emotions, learning and problem-solving abilities, as well as their capacity to use intentional communicative behaviour with humans.

In this talk, he gave an in depth overview of the behavioural experiments his group have used to understand this species’ cognitive capacity, elucidating how their social behaviour and communicative strategies have been influenced by domestication. The audience really enjoyed hearing about this innovative work – we all learnt that there is a lot more to goats than meets the eye!

Who benefits most? Discussing human animal interaction with Dr Samantha Ward. May 2018

Dr Samantha Ward visited the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Chester on 16th May, to give a fascinating talk on human-animal interactions. Sam specialises in human-animal interactions in the zoo environment, recently joining the Zoo Executive Committee to help write guidelines on modern zoo practice, and is the course leader of the BSc Zoo biology course at Nottingham Trent University.

Human-animal interactions has been well studied in the livestock industry, with evidence demonstrating the importance of handling the animals with compassion. In zoos, much of the research on human-animal interactions has looked into the effects of visitors on the animals. Sam’s work focuses on the affect keepers may have on the animals they care for as there is some debate over how much interaction keepers should have with these wild animals.

Sam showed us her most recent research, as well as that of her postgraduate students, providing enthusiastic discussion about how we should view human-animal interactions in the zoo environment. Sam demonstrated that there can be a positive effect of animal-keeper dyads on the welfare of zoo animals, but that there was still much to learn about how we should be interacting with these wild animals to ensure high standards of welfare.